One of the most important apprenticeship funding rules from May is the requirement that every apprentice “spends at least 20 per cent of their time on off-the-job training”.

This simple sentence actually raises a series of questions, such as how to define “their time” and “off-the-job training”.

We understand the SFA will shortly publish dedicated guidance about the off-the-job training rule, but in the meantime we asked for a definition of “their time”. 

The SFA today told FE Week that “their time” refers to contracted employment hours and said:

  • “Off-the-job training must amount to 20 per cent of the apprentice’s contracted employment hours across the whole apprenticeship.
  • “We do not stipulate how this should be spread out.
  • “It cannot include time spent on English and maths, or on training to acquire skills, knowledge and behaviours that are not required in the standard or framework.”

Thus, if an employee is on a two year apprenticeship and has an employment contract of 7 hours x 5 days x 46 weeks x 2 years that is a total of 3,220 contracted hours. Hence, at 20 per cent the minimum off-the-job training would be 644 hours (equivalent to one day per working week).

And for current completeness, here’s what version two of the ‘Apprenticeship funding and performance-management rules for training providers’ says:

The 20 per cent minimum off-the-job rule

“To use funds in an employer’s digital account or from government-employer co-investment for an apprenticeship, you must have evidence that the apprentice spends at least 20 per cent of their time on off-the-job training, recognising that apprentices may need more than 20 per cent off-the-job training, for example if they need English and maths. It is up to you and the employer to decide how the off-the-job training is delivered. This may include regular day release, block release and special training days/workshops.”

Definition of off-the-job training

“Off-the-job training is defined as learning which is undertaken outside of the normal day-today working environment and leads towards the achievement of an apprenticeship. This can include training that is delivered at the apprentice’s normal place of work, but must not be delivered as part of their normal working duties.”

The off-the-job training must be directly relevant to the apprenticeship framework or standard and could include:

  • “The teaching of theory (for example, lectures, role playing, simulation exercises, online learning, manufacturer training).
  • “Practical training; shadowing; mentoring; industry visits and attendance at competitions.
  • Learning support and time spent writing assessments/assignments.”

Off-the-job training does not include:

  • “English and maths (up to level two) which is funded separately
  • “progress reviews or on-programme assessment required for an apprenticeship framework or standard
  • “training which takes place outside the apprentice’s paid working hours”

Evidencing the off-the-job

“The evidence pack must, among other things listed in the funding rules, contain:

  • “evidence to support the funding claimed and must be available to us if we need it. This must include details of how the 20 per cent ‘off-the-job’ training, excluding English and maths, will be quantified and delivered.
  • “details of employment including: the name of the employer and the agreed contracted hours of employment, including paid training and 20 per cent ‘off-the-job’ time, the total planned length of the apprenticeship.”